After seeking permanent space for years, the arts collective and all-ages venue has acquired and will renovate a Plainfield Avenue building in the Creston Neighborhood, launching a new era for The DAAC.
The DAAC has made its home one way or another in Grand Rapids since 2003.
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From the now-leveled old church-style building on Rumsey Street to downtown’s historic Harris Building, each location for the Division Avenue Arts Collective has offered a safe space for the arts. Though none offered a permanent home, where a future could be envisioned and invested in.
So, discussions began in late 2017 to move the pop-up venue and longtime all-ages performance space to a more permanent location.
After scouring the city with the help of real estate agent Pete Bruinsma, the collective eventually landed on 1553 Plainfield Ave. NE in Grand Rapids, a long vacant building in the Creston Neighborhood. The space will be shared and co-owned by Gaia Cafe, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant previously located on Diamond Avenue SE, now owned by Andrea Bumstead.
The group is currently working with architects and will begin building renovations soon, but does not have an opening scheduled.
“To sum it up: It has been a wild ride! I think we have been knocked down so many times but tried (and succeeded) to keep the hope alive throughout it all,” said Sal Moreno, a partner in The DAAC.
“We have been communicating and being honest about our needs as well while working with the city. We owe a lot of thanks to Pete Bruinsma of Grand River Realty, who has been a long time supporter of The DAAC, for counsel and tips when looking for a new home. We can’t thank him enough.
“Honestly, all the zoning and rules are a doozie to understand and it varies from one place to the next. I am grateful for the patience and resilience of the The DAAC crew for going to see all kinds of buildings in all kinds of weather. It has been a true labor of love and our long time member Charity Lytle has her heart invested in this. Her leadership and knowledge have really influenced all of us to persevere.”
EAGER TO OFFER ART SHOWS, MUSIC AND AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
Moreno is one of five partners for The DAAC, which includes Charity Lytle, Sal Moreno, Cait Halloran and Schyler Perkins.
The group is eager to build out the new space to their specific needs and hopes to become a focal point of the surrounding area, offering activities like “art shows, music, experimental nights and hopefully some after-school programming” while also providing a space for community use, such as “birthday parties, meetings, potlucks and practice space.”
“I think it’s exciting that we’re in such a vibrant neighborhood,” said Lytle. “I hope we can support the other businesses in the area with the extra foot traffic, and that we can collaborate on lots of events in the future. I’m also excited that we have a spot that still feels sorta underground.”
Though previous homes of The DAAC have offered charm and character, one thing they did not offer was the ability to make long-term changes and improvements to the buildings themselves.
“I think the permanence hasn’t set in yet. Being able to tailor it to our needs is epic news. We would not be able to do it without the support we have,” Moreno said.
“Accessibility is important and we can have the right size bathroom, ramps, lighting, armless chairs and so forth that are needed.”
One challenge at the new space is parking, as the building has no on-site parking. However, an agreement is in place with Berean Baptist Church to use its lot to the northwest of the building and there are a number of street parking spots nearby.
LA DISPUTE, A RICH HISTORY AND A HOPEFUL FUTURE
Additional fundraising will also be needed before opening to offset a handful of costs related to prepping the building, which formerly housed an insurance agency and is just down the street from Quinn & Tuite’s Irish Pub.
“We don’t have any events scheduled yet, but we hope to have a few fundraisers this summer to help us pay for some unexpected expenses,” said Halloran.
“Some examples are that we have are a water fountain we didn’t know we needed, other heating/cooling/plumbing items, upgraded lighting and sound equipment, chairs, tables and other things we’d like to have to make everyone feel comfortable in the space. We have our reserve funds from past fundraising, but want to be careful with it.”
Since its formation, The DAAC has fostered art in the community, typically in regards to performance. Various release shows, pop-up shows and even Art Prize exhibits have been hosted by the volunteer-run venue. It has also served as one of the very few all-ages venues in Grand Rapids, and plans to continue catering to all ages in its new incarnation.
The DAAC was forced from its longtime home on Division Avenue in 2013 when the building was sold, reopened temporarily in 2016 at 333 Rumsey St. SW and is now set for a new era on Plainfield Avenue.
“I’m excited for it to be open again, period. The DAAC really brings all the musical groups of the city together in the best possible setting, and its impact is massive,” said Perkins.
“La Dispute and Radiator Hospital grew up in The DAAC … and it’s hard to throw a stone without finding a dozen local musicians who got into music because The DAAC existed in the basement on 100-block of Division. I’m excited to see it do the same for the next generation of musicians in the city.”
Get more information and find out how you can support the DAAC at thedaac.org.
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